Elizabeth Bishop on Oscar Wilde

Today also marks the anniversary of the birth of poet, prose writer and translator Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and served as Poet Laureate of the United States.

Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

Of Oscar Wilde, she wrote:

‘One of my students lent me Oscar Wilde’s letters – a huge book. I just meant to glance at it but found myself still reading it at 4 A M today.’

Her verdict on the letters?

‘It gets sadder & sadder – but he [Wilde] was so funny – his US trip is marvelous – he drank all the miners in Colorado under the table (he was 25 or so) and they respected him very much in spite of his velvet knee-britches.’

I’m certain she would have been one of Wilde’s Women had she been born half a century earlier.

Source: Letter to Loren Frankenberg, January 8, 1972 referenced in Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil and After: A Poetic Career Transformed By George Monteiro


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